7 Lessons That Photographers Learn the Hard Way

A lot of photographers work on a trial-and-error routine when they’re first starting out, but these are 7 lessons you should learn from other people – namely photographer Tommy Holt.

1. Don’t over-edit

Because social media has increased demand for instant turnarounds from clients, photographers need to meet this demand without sacrificing quality in their work. Edit a few photos quickly and give your customers a “sneak peek” to give them a treat before the big reveal.

It will be tempting to take your time editing photos, but remember that over-editing can be a slippery slope. Before you sit down at a computer, weed out the photos you know you won’t use and concentrate on the best of the batch.

2. Make a Facebook fan page for your photography

Getting a Facebook fan page can help increase your customer base and develop your brand. It’s a great opportunity to get in touch with potential customers and show off that ultra-nifty logo you’ve recently created for yourself.

What’s great about a Facebook fan page is that it gives people a chance to view your work through an easily accessible user-friendly medium.

3. Watch for shadows in outdoor shoots

Avoid placing your model directly in front of structures such as buildings or fences when the sun is in play. Be wary of posing someone under a tree, where hot spots of light often peek through and cast an unnatural shadow on them.

Instead, direct your model forward away from the structure until the shadow is gone.

4. Use continuous mode for toddlers

Fact: toddlers don’t sit still. Don’t count on getting them to pose for you unless you happen to specialize in sleeping toddler photography. Abandoning the idea of posed shots will save you a whole lot of sanity.

Instead, switch your camera to continuous mode (AF-C on Nikon or AI Servo on Canon). Concentrate on getting proper focus and reacting to what the kid chooses to do. Not only is this easier, it’ll give you a better ratio of usable shots.

5. Stick to your contract

Most photographers don’t want to make a contract for their first assignment at the risk of seeming demanding or rigid, but it only takes one bad customer to change their tune. This is not a lesson you should have to face if you can avoid it.

Foregoing a contract gives clients leeway to change venues and appointment times at will and can knock around your schedule. It’s up to you to uphold your end of a contract, too – a good reputation will get you more business.

6. Utilize flash in outdoor shots

Relying solely on the sun for light in outdoor shoots often produces unflattering shadows on your model’s face. Sure, this can be construed as artsy, but using your flash to fill in shadows on the side opposite the sun is a better solution.

7. When it comes to reflectors, practice

Reflectors work differently depending on the time of day. What will beautifully illuminate a sunset may be blindingly uncomfortable for your model when the sun is coming down more harshly.

Many photographers suggest using the white side of a reflector during midday sun since gold is too harsh. Practice with different reflectors at varying times of day and find combinations that work for varying circumstances.

What’s the harshest lesson you ever learned when you started out as a photographer?

Photo credit: Getty Images